Tuesday, August 5, 2008


On Monday evening August 4, I had the opportunity to attend a send-off party for the Nashville students of the new, incoming Vanderbilt Class of 2012. It was held at the home of Class of '73 member Barry Banker and his wife Jean Ann.

It was a wonderful affair. New Chancellor Nick Zeppos was there to greet everyone. You could see the young people were excited and a bit anxious, as they prepared to take that next big step forward in their lives.

I also observed their parents, all very proud of their offspring's accomplishment to be accepted to attend Nashville's most prestigious educational institution. As it has been for many years, Nashville students make up a pretty large fraction of the freshman class, so the Banker house was filled to overflowing.

Having been in both positions over the years (an incoming student and a parent of incoming student) I could certainly relate to it all, especially remembering how it was 39 years ago (that's right, almost four decades) when we, as members of the Class of 1973, prepared to come to Vanderbilt.

But I sure don't remember any "send off" parties. Heck, because I was a transfer student from Peabody, I didn't even attend the Freshman Picnic at the Chancellor's Residence.

From the information posted at very top of his story, you can tell just how much things have changed. This is official Vanderbilt University information listing the estimated cost for us to go to school for the academic year 1969-70. Tuition was $1,860 for the year, room and board just over a $1,000, books and supplies around $100, laundry and cleaning between $70 and $100, activity fees $50. Add it all up, and Vanderbilt for a year was around $3,000 t0 $3,200!

You can't do doggie day care for that anymore. But remember, in it's day almost 40 years ago, $3,2000 was a lot of money. Now tuition is $36,100, add in room and board (about $12,000) along with books, supplies, fees and personal expenses and today you can do Vanderbilt for a year for just over $52,000.

Now I know that can be breathtaking number, making some of us wonder where has the time and (for those of us with current students or alumni) our money gone?

But I look at it this way. What a bargain we got! My Vanderbilt degree is one of the best investments of my life. The work and sacrifice of my parents and myself (hey, I had to pass the classes) continue to pay off and increase in value every year. So much so, that I seriously doubt I could even get admitted to Vanderbilt today, the competition is so keen, and the kids who go there are so smart.

But we got in early, you might say, and now we all have the chance to come back to campus October 24-25 to celebrate our good fortune and how much our Vanderbilt experience (especially the people and classmates we met here) still mean in our lives. Please share your thoughts below.

One other note: next week I plan to add video as a regular feature of this blog. The Vanderbilt TV News Archives has been one of the greatest resources in the entire University ever since it was founded in the summer of 1968.

Twenty years ago, as a part of our Reunion activities, I persuaded alumni officials to let me put together a video tape covering the major news events of our four years together. I also found some wonderful commercials that showcase the popular culture of the time and how much things have changed.

Thanks to the help, and most importantly the technical expertise, of some wonderful people at Vanderbilt, especially Lacy Tite and Cindy Wall, I can now begin to share these videos with you here on this blog.

I can't wait to get started!

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